Natural Ways to Improve Memory

Natural Ways to Improve Memory

Okay, where did the keys go this time? No, it isn’t that modern keys, reading glasses, cell phones, purses, wallets, etc. are made to be more elusive just to keep you on your toes. Rather, you’re just getting a little older, which may mean the occasional “memory slippage” at times. Of course, this is hardly fair, since in a perfect world, getting older would IMPROVE memory, not cause it to fade!

However, as we all know, the world is not a perfect place…

All kidding aside, with around 40% of those age 65 or older showing signs of age-related memory decline (ARM), you are not alone in your lapsing memory of late.

However, there are some safe, natural and effective ways to improve memory which, while they won’t help you find your keys immediately, can help keep you from losing them so often in the future (much to your spouse’s delight!).

Your Memory Needs a Gym Membership too

When it comes to improving your memory and reducing the potential for ARM, one of the best approaches is the same one you take with your physical health—as in, exercise.

Yes, just as your muscles need work to stay strong, fit and youthful, so does your mind. This can mean doing crossword puzzles, playing a musical instrument, painting or drawing, learning a new language, or any other kind of mental activity which gets you thinking creatively and out-of-the-box. Doing this keeps your brain working, which helps give it the energy to remember things–like where those darned keys are!

However, it isn’t just mental exercise which benefits your brain health, since aerobic exercise of moderate intensity can also help to improve memory. In fact, studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise which gets your heart rate up and your sweat glands activated can increase the size of your hippocampus—the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning.

And, not only does exercise help do this by increasing growth factors in the brain responsible for maintaining healthy circulation and brain cells, it also helps by improving sleep quality and mental well-being. This means less stress and anxiety, both of which can add to brain fog.

Memory Supplements

Another way to improve memory is through good nutrition, and brain supplements can be an effective and convenient way to improve your nutritional uptake.

Here are a few supplements which can help you maintain your memory and thinking skills:

Ginkgo biloba—Perhaps one of the most well-known natural memory supplements is ginkgo biloba, which is an extract of the leaves of the ancient Chinese ginkgo tree. It seems that ginkgo has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine and was introduced into Western culture late in the 18th century. So far as evidence of its effectiveness in helping to improve mental function, while some studies do show promise as a possible treatment for dementia, more research needs to be performed. However, researchers do believe that it improves circulation in the brain and protects the brain against neuronal damage which can lead to better memory and thinking, along with improved ability to perform daily tasks.

Fish oil—Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, of which there are 2 important kinds which benefit your brain health: DHA and EPA, both of which are necessary in normal brain function and development throughout your life. In fact, low serum levels of DHA have been shown to lead to smaller brain sizes in the elderly, while higher intake shows up to a 47% reduction in the risk of dementia.

So, even if you don’t enjoy sardines, salmon, cod or other types of (preferably) cold water fish, your memory can still benefit from a brain supplement containing about 1000-3000mg’s of fish oil per day.

Phosphatidylserine—If someone ever calls you a “fathead,” think of it as a compliment! This is because your brain is the fattiest organ in your body and contains at least 60% lipids, which means fat is what you need for healthy memory and mental function.

Since phosphatidylserine is a form of fat known of as a “phospholipid” which makes up much of the brain, supplementing with around 400mg of this important substance each day may help reduce ARM. In fact, even though more studies need to be performed to fully confirm the advantages of using a phosphatidylserine supplement, there is promising evidence that memory and mental function of even healthy individuals can be improved by it.

Creatine—Creatine is a naturally-occurring substance in all vertebrates, though it needs a couple of key amino acids available only from animal sources for it to form in your body. It is for this reasons that those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet should consider supplementing with creatine, since it plays important roles in energy metabolism, which is critical for healthy mental function.

However, even though at least one study shows up to a 50% improvement in mental performance of vegetarians who supplement with creatine, meat eaters did not show any improvement through its use. This is likely because those who consume animal products get enough glycine and arginine—the 2-amino acids necessary in producing creatine—from their diets. (9,10)

Eating right

Another important way to improve memory is by getting the proper nutrition through your diet. While supplements are a great way to ensure that you get enough brain-friendly nutrition, it is recommended that you stick to a diet of unprocessed whole foods. This should include plenty of fresh, multi-colored fruits and vegetables, lean grass-fed meats, fish or poultry, and complex carbohydrates, such as those found in legumes and whole grains.

However, there are also some foods to look for which have specific brain health benefits, such as:

Fatty fish—As mentioned above, too little omega-3 fatty acids can lead to mental decline, which is just one great reason to enjoy fish such as salmon, sardines, cod or other types of fatty fish.

In fact, not only can the DHA and EPA found in the omega-3 fatty acids of fish help improve your memory and ward off mental decline, it may also help stave off depression when combined with vitamin B-12, of which fresh fish is also a source of.

Dark chocolate—Not that any of us need much reason to enjoy a little dark chocolate, but just in case you do, here it is: dark chocolate may help to improve your memory. This is because it contains antioxidants, caffeine and flavonoids, all of which may help boost memory and reduce your risk for ARM. (12)

Green tea—Green tea isn’t just a great way to start your day, it may also help your cognitive health. This is because it contains caffeine which helps improve alertness and performance on cognitive tasks, as well as other phytochemicals which benefit both mental performance and mood.

In fact, one substance green tea is a rich source of is the amino acid L-theanine which, on its own, is known to promote relaxation, calmness and sense of wellbeing. However, when caffeine and L-theanine are combined, they have been shown to improve performance in tasks which require rapid attention change and have shown to help improve memory and attention span as well.

Plus, even though coffee is also reportedly beneficial to brain health, it can cause jitters—something which green tea is pleasantly free of. (11, 13)

Blueberries—With many fruits and vegetables, the health benefits lay in the deep color. Such is the case with blueberries and other richly colored berries, since the colors indicate the presence of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant compounds called “anthocyanins.” These compounds are known to combat oxidative stress in the body, which has particular benefits when it comes to guarding against ARM and may even help to combat short-term memory loss.

In fact, it has been shown that the accumulated presence of some compounds in blueberries (in particular) help to improve cell signaling in the brain, which of course lead to clearer thinking, and better memory retention. (14, 15)

Finally

Yes, it’s true—none of us are getting any younger, which means many of us will find ourselves experiencing the occasional “senior moment.” However, rather than hoping for new “self-finding car keys” technology to come out, there are a few safe, natural, and effective measures you can take to improve memory.

By keeping your mind and body active and ensuring some key nutritional uptake, you can better enjoy a sharper mind and excellent short-term memory well into your senior years. This will not only help you enjoy a better quality of life but can help ease the worries and burdens of loved ones.

And of course, think of how happy your spouse will be not having to help you find the keys every time you need them.

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